The 'oldest lady of punk' recalls those heady days...

IT’S 1977. Punk has exploded across the country – nowhere more than in Cornwall, with gigs by The Ramones, Sex Pistols, Damned, Generation X and many, many more.

Energised by the new sound, Viva has formed a band. But hang on… she’s a 45-year-old mum and a school lollipop lady.

Now 87, the undisputed ‘Oldest Lady of Punk’ will recall those heady days of DIY music, radical politics and scratch festivals through a series of true tales pulled from her handbag of memories.

In Viva’s Beer Crate Moment – part of this month’s Plymouth Fringe festival of theatre and music – she will present a series of vignettes charting her experiences.

With music from her band, The Bricks, Viva Hamnell, who lives at St Anns Chapel near Gunnislake, will tell the story of her life: from being born in a London workhouse to a Blitz childhood, moving to a ramshackle cottage in Cornwall to touring with a punk band, helping to start Elephant Fayre festival to working at Glastonbury until she was 80.

Viva says: “My dad gave me the name ‘Viva’. It means ‘to live’ – and I plan to live up to it!

“Because I was so much older – and a mum and lollipop lady – The Bricks got a lot of publicity, particularly because I’d dress as a boy scout. But the truth is I had no talent at all – I couldn’t sing, though it didn’t seem to matter much back then.”

Viva’s Beer Crate Moment, produced by Jane Spurr and supported by Simon Parker, is at The Lab in Plymouth’s Theatre Royal on Wednesday May 30 at 5pm.

For details and last-minute tickets visit

This article first appeared in the Independent. To get the latest articles when they appear, buy the print edition every Sunday or subscribe to our online edition HERE.